April 28, 2012

A First-Time Spinner!

Hi all!
So, I had a new experience a couple of nights ago. I was in the mood to exercise, but it was dreary and approaching dusk outside, and I just couldn't bring myself to leave the house and fight the weather.

But then I remembered my father-in-law has an old stationary bike out in the garage, and I decided to give it a go. I pedaled for about 35 minutes, and my backside was VERY SORE from the hard seat filled with compacted, uncomfortable foam. I was thinking, "how could anyone sit on this thing for longer than just a few minutes?!?"  Yikes, it was a hard seat!

My pa-in-law advised me to adjust the seat so that my leg would be almost fully extended on the down pedal, which I did, but then, after about 10 minutes, decided to lower my seat even more.

When my seat was too high, it felt like I had to rock back and forth on the seat with every push of the pedal, just to make it spin. So I figured that my seat was still too tall, and after I lowered it, it felt better and I didn't have to rock back and forth when pedaling, and my legs remained almost fully extended on the down pedal.

I could almost immediately feel the intense workout my quads were getting! I certainly "felt the burn" within just a couple minutes, which only goes to show how utterly out of shape I am!

So, in my opinion, spinning will give me a great, low-impact cardio workout, working "new" muscles I haven't worked in a long time, while enabling me to be indoors on those dreary days.

I'm a spinning convert! So what about y'all? Do you have any tips or advice for me, a newbie spinner? Please let me know, because I could use all the advice I can get as I tackle this new sport!

Spinning; who knew? I never thought I'd enjoy it so much and that I would get such an amazing workout from it! Yay!

image credit: http://spinningbikesnow.wordpress.com/

April 13, 2012

205 pounds...and holding!

This is a photo of me, taken by myself (obviously) last week.  I took this picture to show you all what 205 pounds looks like on me.  I am 26 years old, I eat well, and I exercise.  I have gotten back into running during the last couple of weeks, in order to train for an upcoming 5K race.  I am 5 feet 7 inches tall. 

During the last 3.5 years, I have quickly & steadily gained 50 pounds, despite my best efforts to lose weight, or at least to prevent gaining more.  I have stretch marks all over my body, in places I NEVER thought stretch marks could even occur:  the backs of my calves, my inner thighs, buttocks, and yes, even (and perhaps most shockingly!) my breasts.  I look like I've recently given birth, but in fact, I have never been pregnant. 

But, and this is HUGE, my body has been tricked into believing it has been pregnant for the past 3 years, and this is why I have gained so much weight so quickly, and also why I've been unable to lose any of it.  All of this is because I began taking the birth control known as Depo-Provera right before I got married, about 3.5 years ago.  The emotional weirdness and constant bleeding began almost immediately, with the weight gain beginning around the 2nd-3rd month, and continuing to this day.

My Gynocologist (with whom I discussed my weight-gain fears in detail before beginning this medication), said that she herself took Depo and did not notice any ill effects from it, so I should not be worried about gaining weight.  She knew that I was a runner and that I eat fairly well.  And for her, that seemed to be enough.  But not for me.  I mean, really, does the picture above look like the body of a runner?  Maybe a person who's been sedentary all her life and has only recently been running.  But a woman who was young and relatively fit when she began taking Depo three years ago, and who continued running and eating well the entire time she was on Depo?  No, this picture does not look like a person who is committed to fitness.    

My fitness routine was NO MATCH for the insanely strong level of the hormone Progesterone contained in the Depo.  The Progesterone (a naturally occurring female hormone) was so strong and so concentrated, that it tricked my body into believing it was pregnant, and thus to STORE ALL THE FAT IT COULD to prepare my body for giving birth and nourishing the non-existent baby.  And that's exactly what it did.  My body has been storing fat in my cells like money in a locked vault, and the fat cells refuse to let go of that strong grip on the fat they're storing. 

So here's the crux of the issue:  for me, the amount of exercise and eating well I had been doing up until I started taking Depo (which was a lot), was NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.  Even though the drug label just said something vague in the "risks" section about making sure women who take Depo eat well and maintain an exercise regimen, the label made it sound like the amount of exercise I was doing would be more than enough to keep the weight off.  But, as we all know now, it was not.  And the weird thing was that, as I continued to do both running and weight training, that I actually gained a fair amount of muscle, but did not lose any fat (thanks to the Progestrone), so I bulked up, but NOT in a good way.  So part of my weight gain was simply from all the added muscle I had gained, underneath this huge layer of fat.  Oh joy!  Of course, normally a person would lose fat typically at the same rate that they gain muscle, so if there's any "bulking up," (especially in a woman), it is not much at all, and usually it evens out.  But nope, not for me! 

I should probably take this moment to say that there are plenty of women (I think; I have only actually heard the voices of a couple of them), who took Depo and who had a great experience with it, and I am so glad for them.  However, it doesn't take long to see, after perusing any Depo-Provera "feedback" or "review" site, that the overwhelmingly vast majority of women who've been on it for a few months or more, have had any number of horrible repercussions and symptoms, some that they are still battling, even after stopping the Depo.  Perhaps the most vocal women are the ones who've had horrible experiences with Depo, I don't know.  But I know I have 2 female friends who are almost ten years older than me, and they were both shocked when I told them I was on Depo, and they told me to get off of it ASAP!  They had close friends who had taken it and were still reeling from the negative consequences, and they wished I had asked them for advice before venturing on to partake of this drug! 

I stopped taking Depo just over one year ago now, and so far I have been unable to lose weight.  As a matter of fact, I am still gaining weight, but not as quickly, which is a HUGE BREAKTHROUGH!!!  Since moving to Seattle, I have only gained about 6 pounds in the 4.5 months I have lived here.  That may or may not sound like a lot of weight gain to you, but to me, it is a fantastic development.  That means, at least I HOPE it means, that the Depo is draining from my body enough to stop me gaining lots of weight. 

I guess the moral of my story is this:  that the amount of exercising I was doing was not enough; NOT NEARLY ENOUGH, to prevent huge weight gain, like the drug label (and my doctor) said it would be.  So, for anyone contemplating (or already on) Depo:  are you working out and eating right like it's your job?  If not, then Depo may cause you to gain large amounts of weight and make it stick around for at least a year afterwards.  Oh, how I wish my doctor had talked me out of using Depo!

April 5, 2012

"Free Them" 5K Run for World Concern!

On May 12th, I will be running my first 5K (or race of ANY kind) since 2007.  This race is to support a GREAT cause:  World Concern Ministries, who help battle poverty and exploitation in areas like Haiti & Africa!  You can click here to go to my fundraising page and donate whatever you feel inclined to donate towards this worthy cause of saving people from the ravages of poverty.

World Concern helps rescue people from poverty on numerous levels, including bettering their lives by providing wells for clean drinking water, educating children and oppressed women, teaching women marketable skills like sewing or jewelry making to sell for money, and even giving out small business loans to help local people start their own businesses and help pull themselves out of the sticky mire of poverty.   I really admire how World Concern acknowledges that there are many battle fronts to pursue in fighting the war on poverty, and how a many-faceted approach is probably the best for creating lasting change.

Currently I am training for this race, but I recently returned to running after quite the hiatus, so I can only run for a few minutes before taking a walk break.  My goal is to be able to run the entire 5K without stopping to walk or rest, so we shall see!

This race conveniently coincides with my new aggressive plan to lose weight and get back into shape.  But I don't believe in coincidences, so I feel that this is meant to be, and that I am going to 'kill two birds with one stone':  get into shape again, and raise money for a worthy cause by training for (and then finishing) a 5K race.

Will you please think and pray about whether or not you should donate to my cause, or if you're inspired, please go find a service organization you feel strongly about, and get involved with them somehow and help change the world (or at least your small corner of it!)

And, if you're the praying kind, please pray for me and my fitness journey, that I will (finally!) be able to start losing weight, now that it's been a little over a year since I've been off of the Depo-Provera birth control shot, since that's what caused me to gain about 55 pounds in the last two years.  I have desperately tried losing weight before, and was completely devastated that after 5 months of hardcore exercise and eating healthy.  During those five months of working out for 1.5 hours five days a week, I did not gain any more weight, but I did not lose a single pound, because the Depo was still coursing vigorously through my system, and it was doing its job of tricking my body into thinking it was pregnant, thus storing all the fat it could, and hanging onto it with a vise-like grip.

So, this is a great opportunity for me in a couple of ways, because I am excited to raise money for a cause I believe is producing real, positive change in the world, while also encouraging me to get in shape with a specific goal in mind.  Won't you join me and the revolution against poverty and pain?  Donate to my page, or find your favorite charity and get to work!  God bless you in your efforts!